Red Sox ace Sale throws 1st simulated game in bid for return

June 16, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale threw 32 pitches in a simulated game at Fenway Park on Thursday.

With teammates watching from different areas of the ballpark, the 33-year-old Sale faced the same three batters twice — in two separate innings — and sat in the dugout after the first.

“Good, 94, 95 (mph). Good changeup,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after Sale was done.

Sidelined since spring training after suffering a fracture in his rib cage, Sale could be a huge boost for a Boston rotation that also is missing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi because of a back injury.

But Sale’s health will be a concern, once again.

Sale, signed through 2024 in a five-year, $145 million deal, is 114-74 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,059 strikeouts over 321 big league appearances. But the seven-time All-Star has thrown just 42 2/3 innings for the Red Sox since the end of the 2019 season.

Last season, he went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts in his return from Tommy John surgery, relying mostly on his fastball and slider.

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Now, Cora was excited to see Sale’s changeup.

“He was a two-pitch pitcher for a month and half. That far away from surgery now, this will play. It was a good one,” Cora said. “I don’t know what’s next, we’ll sit down today and map it out.”

Most of Boston’s relievers watched Sale’s throwing session, sitting in the grass in shallow center field. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts took it in from the dugout with a few teammates, and star third baseman Rafael Devers watched from lower-box seats while chatting with friends.

The media was lined up behind the plate and in the first row along the first-base line.

“We’ve just got to be patient. Everybody’s excited,” Cora said, before joking: “I’ve never seen a live BP with this much coverage in the years I’ve been here.”

After walking off and into the dugout, Sale bumped knuckles with a handful of teammates before heading to the clubhouse. He didn’t speak to the media.

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